Placing the Pieces of Former Ray Garza’s Trade Puzzle




Some around the Rays Republic have already thrown up their hands in disbelief and bewilderment at the current state of the Rays roster without thinking of the overall picture or possible scenarios that could hinge based on this one trade recently of Tampa Bay Rays starter Matt Garza, outfielder Fernando Perez and minor league prospect Zack Rosscup.

Individually they all might not seem related, but as a whole they turn into a gold mine of future potential and possible long term roster additions for the future of this Rays franchise.

No one has even minutely dug into the possible second vein of gold that is awaiting the Rays when the 2011 MLB First Year Players Draft is held and the Rays hold key positions in a relatively deep draft. The team could eventually through this Summer’s draft picks, plus the key addition of several top Cubs prospects could be in position to be sitting pretty both in personnel and fiscal contracts well into their next purge into playoff contention.

And do not forget just because of the mass exodus of some from the Rays fold, do not under estimate the power of a well turned draft and a few cunningly calculated trade pieces that could sparkle bright for many years with the right moves.

For some odd reason, every time the Rays have made such a trade move since Rays Vice President of Baseball Operations has been given the keys to drive the Rays team bus, I always seem to visualize Friedman putting together one of those intricate 500-1,000 piece photo-based puzzles.

That has become the basic nuance of Rays trades in recent years that the team has to find some sort of innate value over the long haul of the deal for it to get past just the chatter stage. Friedman has become a bit of a puppet master over his last few deals in wheeling and dealing until he gets just the right mesh of talent and potential that will satisfy his fiscal and physical demands. In this trade, the upside seems to favor the Cubs, but under the surface, the Rays might have struck a hidden vein of golden future potentials.

The Rays acquired the Cubs top pitching prospect (Christopher Archer),their top catching prospect who was thought to be in the mix for a possible Cubs back-up spot (Robinson Chirinos), two outfielders ( Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer), plus a possible future Rays shortstop option ( Hak-Ju Lee). If you look at 3 years down the road, then the Rays definitely got the better end of the deal.



But it is a two-way conversation, and based on potential now and of value to the Cubs chances of regaining a post season nod, then the Garza trade favors the present day Cubs, but might hurt them in their farm system in the long run. And this might trouble some within the Rays Republic who can not look beyond the puzzle’s photo and into the intricate jigsaw pieces and future combinations that could turn into another chance for the Rays to contend.

Intricate pieces of this trade puzzle come in the form of RHP Archer who could possibly be sent to Double-A Montgomery to start the year, then with a great start and a maturation process, could be another potential Rays rotation piece knocking at the door by 2012. Archer’s has a tremendous slider and has huge potential upside for the Rays farm system staffs as he rises through the Rays system. Having another well-tooled pitching weapon in the Rays system is never a bad thing.

The addition of the infielder turned catcher Chirinos to the Rays catching corps could make current Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach into trade bait this July with an impressive minor league season. He will join an a Rays farm system catching corps that is quickly becoming a firm asset of the Rays system.

If Chirinos hits his marked potential during this minor league season, the Rays could see an extremely young catching duo of John Jaso and Chirinos as early as August 2011. Possibly earlier if an injury besets Shoppach.

I still feel firmly that the addition of 20-year old infield prospect Lee to the mix just gives the Rays another option of SS prospect Tim Beckham doesn’t begin to develop as the next Rays SS prospect. Bringing Lee in might just jump start Beckham’s competitive juices and finally get him to retain his First Round Pick potential. If not, the young Lee, who was considered the Cub’s fourth best prospect could be the steal of the deal.

The last hidden piece of this trade puzzle might be Guyer who could start the year at Triple-A, but after being selected as the Cub minor league player of the Year in 2010 with a .344 average with 13 Home Runs, 58 RBIs, 30 stolen bases and a .588 OPS. Over his first 4 years of professional ball, Guyer has a .292 average with 92 steals. Instantly you think this might be the guy the Rays wanted in the deal as a future player to replace a certain current Centerfielder who’s game has not lived up to the hype recently.

A quick comparison shows that B J Upton had a .234 batting average with 18 HRs, 62 RBIs, 42 stolen bases and a .322 OPS. A quick gander shows that if Upton gets into a sudden hitting funk, or doesn’t live up to a $ 5 million dollar salary, we could also see a exit visa punched for Upton to possibly finish 2011 in another team’s colors.

The Sam Fuld/ Fernando Perez swap just looks like a solid wash with the Cubs getting a speedy option as a outfielder or pinchrunner and the Rays getting some potential outfield depth in Durham or on the Rays bench. This is a minor deal churning within the bigger idea, but both will compliment thier new teams this Spring.  

Suddenly if you look at each piece of this Cubs/Rays puzzle, it all adds up to a huge potential for change as early as the 2010 Trade Deadline.

I bet even as I am sitting here pecking at these keys Friedman is sitting possibly online right now watching video or processing data looking for the next great Rays trade. Or maybe Friedman is just sitting at home right now sitting at the dining table staring at a pile of 500-1,000 individual puzzle pieces spread out in front of him trying to assemble a 3-D feasible puzzle of how to visually get the Rays back into contention.

500-1,000 individually crafted pieces that could systematically transform into another postseason puzzle with just the right combination of pieces. Or did he just acquire those pieces?





It’s beginning to look like the Cubs and Rays are switching teams. Next we’ll take Longoria. Amazing player!!!

–Mark Gauthier

I haven’t broken down the trade completely yet, but it’s a good trade for both teams at this point. Trading Garza now gives the rays a little bit of extra payroll to spend and allows room for Hellickson in the starting rotation. The Cubs get a really good starter. However, the Rays got Archer and Lee in the deal as well. I think Lee is the key to the deal for the Rays. I believe he is a future stud SS and leadoff hitter. Chirinos is a 26 year old double A catcher. I’m not sold on him personally. I don’t know much about the pitcher the Cubs are getting and the 2 outfielders are a wash like you said.


There have been a few moves in regards to the Cubs that push the thought process in that direction.
Still chuckling that the Chicago Sun Times took a photo of Joaquin Benoit and introduced it to Chi-town fans as Matt Garza.
Seriously though, Carlos Pena is a great clubhouse guy and a great role model for young fans. Also has a sparkling personality and is very humble. He is the catch of the year for the Cubs, not Garza.

Rays Renegade

I like this trade better for the Rays than I did the Royals return for Zack Greinke. Everybody seems to be counting out the Rays, and I’d say that’s very foolish. Sure, the Red Sox have to be excited that they won’t have to face Matt Garza again, but as an opposing fan, Jeremy Hellickson concerns me greatly. If someone wanted to get the best of the Rays, perhaps they should start raiding the front office!


Hellboy is a great young stud. He is calm under pressure and has the make-up to be around for a long time. But even behind him is Matt Moore who lead the minor leagues in K’s in 2010,and he might be knocking at the door this September.
Add the addition of Chris Archer to the mix and the Rays could ship off another starter by the Trade deadline and might not even skip a heartbeat.
Depth in the system is tremendous, but saving $ 5.5 million with someone like Jim Thome still taking offers is down right insanity and joy at the same time.

Rays Renegade

I’ve read a lot of articles saying the Rays got the best of that trade, given all the young talent they got for Garza. Your guys will be good for generations and it’s scary!

I am excited about the pieces the Rays got in the trade, and a chance to save a boatload of $$$ to throw at a Free Agent of our choice. Lee does look like the real deal, and could develop nicely to be a great addition to the Rays farm system with an eye at hitting the bigs in 2012 in some capacity.
Still think Archer might be the real catch of it all, but we will see soon enough if the kid i sall that and a bag of chips.
By the way, thank the Chi Sun-Times for me. Shows me that an unpaid bloggers has the real pulse of the game more than a well paid photo copy editor. I am looking for a gig Sun-Times? (lol)

Rays Renegade

To me, this one actually looked like both teams got a best end the deal. The Cubs got another good arm for the rotation now and the Rays will surely benefit from the future talent a year or two down the line and, as you say, can probably use the dollars and potential trades they just freed up to fill any needs this season. Sounds like a win-win to me!
First MFIKY and now Hellboy? The more I read about your team’s nicknames, the more I think that the best, most creative nicknames are born in Florida, LOL.
– Kristen

You know RR, the Rays moves reminds me of you playing Fantasy baseball. they alwas end up with a young excited team.

And do not forget the 10+ 2011 MLB Draft picks the Rays could be rewarded with if all their Type A and B Free Agents get gigs.
You are so right about a stockpile of young talent that is just perculating and maturing in the farm system. I get a bit giddy with the anticipation of seeing some of those bats and arms hitting the MLB level and producing like million dollars babies.

Rays Renegade

This is why I never do puzzles…seems a lot like wor…LOL!


This is why I never do puzzles….seems a lot like work…LOL!


I think the emergence of Cubs SS Starlin Castro made Lee available, but it cost them 3 of their top tier prospects. Sure they own the rights to Garza’s arbitration for 3 more years, but each year that cost should increase. All ther while the 4 Cubs prospects will be go9ing through the Rays systerm with all their years still intact.
If you want to win now, and force your hand, then it was good for the Cubs. If you want to stock your farm systemto the rafters, then it was great for the Rays.
I think over the whole deal, the Rays got the best end of it all. But if you want to make the playoffs and match-up now with your division rivals and do not care about 2012 or 2013 right now…Cubs win…..Cubs win!

Rays Renegade

I can see that.
I had the second best record after the regular season, but the top 4 teams did not face each other, and no wild card.
Not saying I could of defeated the eventual champs (You), but I tweaked my line-up to win all my playoff games and still came out with the second best record….But it was a blast as always.
Looking forward to Fantasy Baseball 3.0 this Spring, but I do not want to,be in your division (lol).

Rays Renegade

Had an old H S Football Coach who said that you had to have a mental challenge in your life to solidify your physical challenge. It made me take Mass Media 1, which in turn got me to take Journalism and write for the school paper.
So using my brain for more than a hat rack is kind of normal.
Seriously, I do not do puzzles…I do not have the patience for something spread out on a table for 3 days either.

Rays Renegade

You guys got a ton for Garza, I think the trade was a win-win for both teams.

You guys got a ton for Garza, I think the trade was a win-win for both teams.

We have gotten a ton of great future additions to our team this Winter freom both the Cubs and your Padres.
For that I say Thank You. It has saved us over $11 million dollars, and could be the amount needed to get someone like Vlad or Mr. Jim Thome to consider the Florida sunshine and beaches for a season.
Better yet, it has given the Rays farm system a few guys that could shake up a few prospects and weed out the malcontents who felt “dialed into the system”.
All 3 teams actually got better, but the Rays will be able to maintain that level a little longer than the Cubs and Padres.
But then again, Thank You!

Rays Renegade

Truly amazing how much a team is willing to mortgage their future for a shot at immortality now. The Cubs got a solid #2 pitcher in Garza, and control him for a couple more seasons, and in the haul the Rays received, they obtained a probable stud in Lee and Archer. Adding to this young Rays nucleus has developed them the ability to trade from their rotation and still be a power in the AL East.

Even with all the subtraction this off-season, the Rays are still set for another exciting season of baseball, and another division win.

I must say, even with the Rays being in the AL, and myself being a fan of The Dodgers through and through, I will say this. I am a fan of the Rays as well. At the end of the day, I wish them the best of luck, and hope that they beat the Yankees and give it their all against the Red Sox.

Hopefully they pan out and Rays v. Dodgers meet up in the World Series.


I think the Dodgers are another club that people are forgetting about that has some great hidden talent both at the MLB level and in their farm system.
Everything seems to be focused on the McCourt battles and no one is looking at the baseball side of this franchise right now.
Still, the Boys in Blue are stuck in a highly competitive division, like the Rays and will have to battle public opinion and apathy as well as produce on the field.
Just hoping to see some great memories in 2011 both on and off the field.

Rays Renegade

Matt Garza is a class act guy! Really wish he could have stayed with you guys though!!!

Honest answer here, it was time for him to go.
We (the Rays) would have had to make the same decision in late July or the Winter of 2011. Garza had gotten to that mystery amount that was the top ceiling price for the Rays without rebuttal.
B J Upton, even with his arbitration agreed contract is also rubbing against the glass and if he doesn’t have a stellar year might have played his last season in Tampa Bay.
Fiscal, not physical realities are prime in Rays-ville.
Unfortunately Garza is gone, but not forgotten. But that is just the way of the baseball world….or at least in our little neck of the sand.

Rays Renegade

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